No One Told Me These Things Before I Had A Kid — Maybe Knowing Them Now Will Help You

I love my son with all my heart and I wouldn’t trade him for the world, but I do wish someone had told me the raw truth about parenting before I had him. I don’t think it would’ve made me any more prepared, but I might have been slightly less shocked to discover the harsh truths about being a mom if people had been a bit more frank. Here’s what I wish I’d have known:

  1. You’ll become a jerk. Not only that, but no matter how shy/reserved you were before, you’ll grow some huge balls because you’ll have to in order to stand up for what’s right for your child. You’ll have to tell off their teachers, doctors, their father, your parents, your in-laws, and sometimes even complete strangers — and you won’t think twice about doing it.
  2. You know only 1 percent of your emotional capacity before being a mom. If you think you knew anger before, after kids it becomes an entirely different emotion that has no name. Every feeling is amplified by 1,000 times after children. I was in a car accident where no one was seriously injured, but I warned the cops to keep the driver at fault away from me because I would try to seriously injure him. (I’m pretty sure I told the cops I’d kill him.) That driver put my child’s life in danger with his stupidity and I’ve never felt anything so powerful before in my life.
  3. You’ll want to apologize to your parents. You’re the reason that they’re now crazy and irrational. Oh, you just thought they were always like that? No, they were (most likely) very reasonable and relatively normal people before you — you made them the way they are. You were a jerk to them when they did everything for you. You made them worry needlessly and then held it against them when they were beside themselves with terror that something had happened to you. Yup, you were the worst — all kids are.
  4. Ninety percent of parenting is choosing between two bad decisions. Do you send your kid to the school when they’re sick and tell them to tough it out and potentially make it worse or do you keep them home and help them get better even though it’s only a little sniffle, sending them the message that calling a time-out is always an option? Nine times out of 10, there’s no right or wrong decision. It’s just a bad decision and one that could potentially be worse.
  5. The other 10 percent is trying to convince yourself you’re not doing a terrible job. You try to convince yourself you’re making the right choices for your child but spend most of your time feeling thoroughly convinced that you absolutely made the wrong choice and that you’ve irreparably damaged your child. If they end up turning into total psychopaths, it’s all your fault, right?
  6. You’ll break your own heart. There are nights I stay awake crying. Some days you’ll think that anyone and everyone could do a better job raising your child than you’re doing, and sometimes you’ll cry because you had a bad day and your child had to be there for it. Hell, sometimes your child is the reason you had a bad day. You’ll think the worst of yourself and break your own heart with your thoughts.
  7. You won’t recognize yourself sometimes. I read a parenting book when I was pregnant that said something to the effect of, “It’s totally normal to want to throw your new baby out of a window as long as you don’t actually do it.” Don’t think you could ever feel like that? Well, you can and you probably will. There’s a reason “don’t shake your baby” is something that’s often littered throughout pregnancy and parenting articles, and it’s because the incessant four-hour-long wailing session of a tiny alien creature who won’t shut the hell up at 4 a.m. will drive you to the brink of insanity — and you’ll hate yourself for feeling that way. If anyone tells you they didn’t feel that way, I’ll put money on them BS’ing.
  8. Sleep debt is your life now. Despite popular belief, it won’t get any better. “But when the baby can sleep through the night…” I hear you say. Yeah, that’s BS. You’ll have raging nightmares about your child’s death, the crippling and heartbreaking fear that you’re an awful parent as you try not to cry yourself to sleep, or even the nagging feeling as you start falling asleep that your child’s not okay in some way. Trust me when I say that you will, at some point, become sleep bankrupt. It doesn’t get any better when they’re wily teenagers either — you’ll just have a whole new set of things to worry about then. By the time they no longer need you to worry? Well, you still will, and there’s no way to catch up on the years of sleep you’ve lost. You will forever be in debt to your bed.
  9. You’ll miss your small freedoms Like being able to go out after 8 p.m., taking a walk in the dark, or being able to get completely drunk… at least for a little while. Eventually, you’ll miss things like being able to talk on the phone for more than 10 minutes without having someone interrupt, peeing by yourself, catnaps, or not having to make breakfast every day.
  10. You won’t wonder what your life would have been like without them, though. At least not often — and when you do think about what your life would’ve been like, you’ll know with complete certainty that you’re happier with them than you would have been without.
  11. You’ll be surprised every single day of how much you’re capable of. Parenting will push you past every breaking point you ever had and sometimes it’ll make you run on thin air like you’re in an old-school Wiley Coyote cartoon. However, you’ll be amazed by how strong you can be and how much love you’re capable of giving. That alone makes up for everything else that entirely sucks about parenting.
Ashley is a freelance writer, a serial-entrepreneur, a mom to an overly-energetic toddler, and prone to adopting too many animals. Her newest venture is running an Etsy store, Haskell's Handmades. She has no free time because her over-the-top energetic little family keeps her busy laughing (and writing.)